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East Kentucky Water Network

Point of Contact:

LiKEN convenes the East Kentucky Water Network, a network of organizations and stakeholders working together to secure clean, reliable, and affordable drinking water and improve watershed quality in eastern Kentucky.


Our objectives are:

  1. to increase public participation in water governance/ advocacy/ organizing in the eastern Kentucky counties represented in the coalition by meeting people’s basic life needs for clean, safe, and affordable water;

  2. to contribute to and shape public narratives around the importance and necessity of clean and affordable drinking water to a just economic transition and development in Central Appalachia;

  3. to connect efforts to improve watershed quality with community-led advocacy efforts around clean and affordable drinking water;

  4. to provide accurate, understandable, and actionable data to residents in eastern Kentucky that connect community health issues to environmental issues, and local situations to broader regional and national trends;

  5. to build community capacity to shape policies at the local, state, and national levels.


The network meets weekly and supports our members in our water work.

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Drinking Water Affordability in Kentucky

Access to clean, affordable water is a human right, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to pay their water bills. Water bills are rising across the country at a rate outpacing inflation. Affordable water is not only important for households to make ends meet, but also from a water system sustainability perspective. Households’ inabilities to pay for water services can create a shortfall in revenue for the utility, thereby jeopardizing the ability to operate and maintain the water system. Utility affordability issues are widespread throughout Kentucky. A snapshot analysis of water bills and water burden across Kentucky using water rates collected in late 2021 through early 2022 shows large variations in monthly water bills across the state, revealing that some households pay six to nine times as much as other households. The three case studies in this report on the water systems with the highest water bills also clearly show that poor water infrastructure is an issue in Kentucky water systems, and yet repairing and replacing failing infrastructure drives up water bills. The report ends with a number of policy recommendations and includes a variety of maps, charts, and appendices.

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